The Premier League is an ever-changing landscape, with clubs rising and falling in the pecking order. For example, before the English top flight using its current name in 1992, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Everton and Tottenham were regarded as ‘the big five’, as they were seen as the biggest clubs in the country at the time.
However, in recent years, since the rebranding of the top flight to the Premier League in 1992, there has been a slight change in who is considered to be the powerhouses of the English game. Here are the clubs most recently labelled ‘the big six’, mainly due to their performance in the Premier League.
Despite ebbs and flows, the Red Devils have remained a big force in the English game for much of their history. United are the most successful English club in terms of winning the league title, having been crowned English champions on 20 occasions, 13 of which have been during the Premier League era.
United have also won numerous other trophies over the years, including lifting the European Cup/Champions League, which they have won on three occasions. Despite not winning the English title since 2013 in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last season in charge of the club, the Red Devils are still considered by many to be one of the biggest clubs in the world.
The men from Merseyside are just one behind their north west rivals, United, when it comes to English top-flight titles and have also been crowned champions of Europe on six occasions. They have been serial winners of trophies over the years and have won more major trophies at the time of writing than any other English club.
Despite their history of winning trophies, Liverpool has only won the English top flight once in the Premier League era, back in season 2019/20, ending a 30-year title drought. However, they have endured some close calls with the Premier League title in recent seasons, as they have finished as runners-up on five occasions since the league was rebranded.
The Gunners have remained one of English football’s mainstays for much of their history. Only Everton has spent more seasons in the English top-flight than the club from north London.
However, Arsenal currently holds the record for most consecutive seasons in the top flight, with their last relegation coming in season 1914/15, before the English top-flight was suspended for the First World War.
Arsenal have been crowned English champions 13 times, with three of those titles coming in the Premier League era under the great French boss Arsene Wenger.
City were not part of the traditional ‘big five’ of the First Division. However, their transformation into a global force, mainly due to heavy investment from the club’s owners on and off the pitch, has seen them become part of the Premier League ‘Big Six’.
Before the Premier League began, City had only been crowned champions of England twice, which was in 1937 and 1968. In recent years, the Citizens have become the dominant force in the English top-flight, winning the league title seven times in the last 11 years.
The men from Manchester also finally won the holy grail of the Champions League for the first time in 2023, a triumph that was part of a historic treble which also included winning the Premier League and FA Cup.
The Blues are another club that has gained prominence in the Premier League era due to the generous spending of the club’s previous owner, Roman Abramovich. Chelsea’s only title before the Premier League era came in season 1954/55.
Since 2005, the team from the English capital have won five further English titles, with their last coming in 2017, plus numerous other trophies. Alongside the league triumphs, their most significant achievements came in 2012 and 2021, when the Blues were crowned champions of Europe.
Despite their last English title coming in 1961, the club from north London earned their place in ‘The Big Six’ due to consistently finishing in the higher echelons of the Premier League table. Since 2010, they have never finished lower than seventh place in the standings.
The closest that Spurs came to winning the title in the Premier League era came in the season 2016/17 when they finished as runners-up. It has also been a case of so close yet so far away in the Champions League, as in 2019, Spurs finished as runners-up in European football’s elite competition, losing the final of the competition 2-0 to Liverpool.
Is the term ‘Big Six’ still relevant in 2023?